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Thursday, January 9, 2014

What is water boarding

What is water boarding

In October 2007, Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey drew criticism for his refusal to characterize water boarding, a controversial interrogation technique considered by many to be illegal, as torture.

Mukasey, a retired federal judge nominated by President Bush, dodged the question in his confirmation hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee, stating that if water boarding amounts to torture, it is not constitutional, but never explicitly condemning it source: NPR. His response prompted several senators on the committee to declare that they would oppose Mukaseys nomination as Attorney General unless he denounces water boarding as a form of torture. Nevertheless, Mukasey was confirmed and served under President Bush.

Mukaseys nomination wasnt the first time the Bush administration faced controversy over what it considered appropriate interrogation techniques of terror suspects. In an October 2006 radio interview, Vice President Dick Cheney was asked if a dunk in the water was an acceptable form of prisoner interrogation. When he answered in the affirmative, many people took that to be an endorsement of water boarding. Human rights groups immediately seized on the statement as indicating support for torture, and Cheneys spokespeople released statements saying that Cheney was not endorsing water boarding when he made that remark.

Water boarding has been around for centuries. It was a common interrogation technique during the Italian Inquisition of the 1500s and was used perhaps most famously in Cambodian prisons during the reign of the Khmer Rouge regime during the 1970s. As late as November 2005, water boarding was on the CIAs list of approved enhanced interrogation techniques intended for use against highvalue terror suspects. In a nutshell, water boarding makes a person feel like he is drowning.

Water boarding as it is currently described involves strapping a person to an inclined board, with his feet raised and his head lowered. The interrogators bind the persons arms and legs so he cant move at all, and they cover his face. In some descriptions, the person is gagged, and some sort of cloth covers his nose and mouth; in others, his face is wrapped in cellophane. The interrogator then repeatedly pours water onto the persons face. Depending on the exact setup, the water may or may not actually get into the persons mouth and nose; but the physical experience of being underneath a wave of water seems to be secondary to the psychological experience. The persons mind believes he is drowning, and his gag reflex kicks in as if he were choking on all that water falling on his face.

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